To note appeals lodged, imminent public inquiries and appeals awaiting decision.
The Service Manager (Development Management) made the following points concerning appeals: Items 21 to 39 (Refusals relating to telephone kiosks in various locations) – These applications had all been refused but there had been an appeal for each application. Officers would provide an update on the results in due course.
Item 48 – 270 Church Road, St George – This application had been refused by Committee on the grounds that it was out of kilter visually with the existing building and surroundings. There had been an appeal which had been dismissed.
Item 53 – O and M Sheds, Welsh Back, Bristol – The Committee was reminded that it had considered this application on 22nd February 2017 and had refused planning permission (against officer recommendation) on the following grounds:
1. The proposed cantilevered decking would be constructed in a way that would conceal views of the listed harbour wall, compromising the setting of this part of quayside, causing harm to the listed structure and the conservation area.
2. The proposed outdoor seating and proximity to nearby residential properties would harm amenity.
3. The proposal would impede the historic use of this part of the quayside, which is the residential mooring for large boats, detracting from the area’s distinctiveness and prejudicing access onto neighbouring moorings.
The resulting appeal was dealt with in the form of written representations and the Inspector made the following points in allowing the appeal on 16th April 2018:
(1) Cafes, pubs and restaurants added to the vibrancy of the city,
(2) The proposed decking would cause minimum impact and was in place elsewhere. It would cause less than substantial harm
(3) Houseboat Re-location – This would not compromise the waterside setting and would not materially harm the significance of the conservation area.
(4) Living Conditions – Whilst this site was in a cumulative impact area, the licensing regime is separate from the planning process and the Council’s licensing policy allow for flexibility when looking at “family friendly” proposals. The site was allocated for uses including leisure in the local plan and the proposals accorded with this. It was not unreasonable to expect that there would be some noise and disturbance during the evening when living in city centre locations. Permission for a similar scheme had also been granted in 2009. The harm to the amenity of the occupiers of the houseboat would not occur if the houseboat was moved.
(5) The appeal did not fetter the houseboat’s owners’ rights in respect of her licence or any other agreement with the Council, as these matters sit alongside but outside of the planning process. Subject to the use of a condition, stating that development could not take place unless the boat was relocated, the proposal would not harm the living conditions of neighbouring residents. Whilst the stress and anxiety of the development was acknowledged and the location of the development would interfere with the human rights of the houseboat owner, this was outweighed by the wider public benefits
(6) Costs – the Inspector acknowledged that local planning authorities are not bound to accept the advice of their officers, but evidence is required to justify making a decision that is contrary to professional advice. . Whilst the Council did not act irrationally, as slight adverse harm to the listed harbour wall had been identified, it had acted unreasonably by not producing evidence to demonstrate why the benefits didn’t outweigh this harm. The Council had been unduly influenced by local opposition to the appeal scheme and costs were awarded against the Council.
Councillors made the following points in response to these findings:
(7) Whilst it was acknowledged that the issue of the houseboat was not a Planning issue, the Committee had wanted to ensure the houseboat owners were treated with respect and were unhappy with the way in which this issue had been handled. It was very concerning to hear the Inspector’s judgement that local opinion was not important enough.
(8) The decision to award costs was absurd given the acknowledgment by the Inspector of the impact on the human rights of the houseboat owners. The Council’s defence on this issue seemed half- hearted. As landowner, the Council could use its position to a much greater degree than it did. It was noted that the existing situation was extremely difficult as it could result in a large number of evictions. The role of property services in this application was a cause for concern.
(9) The Inspector’s comments were insulting as they failed to recognise the different role that Councillors have to officers
(10) The Committee faced a difficult role in safeguarding the public whilst complying with Planning law
(11) In response to a question from a Councillor, officers advised that, whilst final costs were not yet known, they were likely to be between £10,000 and £20,000.
Resolved – that the appeals be noted.